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Divers recover US airman’s remains from WWII bomber wreck near Malta


Archaeological divers have recovered human remains from the wreck of a U.S. bomber that crashed near the Mediterranean island of Malta in May 1943.

Scientific analysis by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has confirmed the remains are those of U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) Sgt. Irving R. Newman, who was  22 years old when the aircraft — a B-24 Liberator based in Libya — suffered engine trouble and was hit by anti-aircraft fire during a bombing raid over the southern tip of Italy.

The bomber wreck was located in 2016 but it’s taken archaeological divers from the University of Malta several years to excavate it and recover the remains. (Image credit: DPAA/University of Malta)

The bomber then tried to reach Malta — an emergency landing site for Allied aircraft in trouble — but the aircraft lost power as it approached the island. Nine of the bomber’s crew survived the crash landing on the water’s surface. They tried to rescue Newman, who had been injured by anti-aircraft fire, but the aircraft sank after a few minutes, taking Newman with it.

The American bomber suffered engine trouble during a raid over occupied southern Italy in May 1943. It was then damaged by anti-aircraft fire and the crew hoped to make an emergency landing at Malta. (Image credit: DPAA/University of Malta)

The wreck now lies about a mile (1.6 kilometers) off Malta’s southernmost point, about 190 feet (58 meters) beneath the water’s surface.

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